17.02.2004
Russian Orthodoxy: Striving for Monopoly
№1 2004 January/February

Will Russia survive as a sovereign federal state in the 21st
century, or will it fall apart into several independent states,
possibly coming under the control of Russia’s present neighbors?
This may seem like a fantastic supposition of some kind, but let us
recall that a mere fifteen to twenty years ago, the prospect of the
Soviet Union disintegrating looked equally improbable.

The Russian Federation, as the official successor to the Soviet
Union, has retained the Soviet nuclear arsenals, yet it is inferior
in its military and industrial potential – as well as in many other
crucial features – to its former rival of the Western world. Not
only have other countries lost the fear of our might (this is a
good sign in itself, though); they simply disregard us as an equal
partner, and must be persuaded to heed our views when considering
any particular international issue. Quite obviously, Russia does
not have the same type of visible external threats now as in the
past.

However, recently there has been a rise of new domestic threats.
These grave threats intertwine with each other, and each may
represent extreme consequences for the future of the Russian state.
The most immediate were listed in a newspaper interview with
Nikolai Kovalyov, deputy chairman of the State Duma Security
Committee. Kovalyov, a former chief of Russia’s Federal Security
Service (FSB) singled out eight threats: domestic and international
terrorism, including the Chechen problem; drugs trafficking; crimes
against individuals, opposition between society and the state;
external threats to economic dependence; corruption; refugees and
displaced persons; manmade disasters and natural calamities; and
parental neglect of children.1

Kovalyov made no mention, however, of another factor, the
significance of which he definitely underestimated. In the Soviet
era, the role of religion was replaced by state ideology; today,
the religious factor has moved to the forefront of internal threats
these days.

It is readily known that religion can have a constructive or
destructive role in society’s life. Three thousand years ago, for
example, Judaism laid down the principles and foundations of a
judiciary system that was independent from all other branches of
power; Christianity greatly contributed to the rise of European
civilization that gradually evolved toward the recognition of the
priority of common human values; Islam was behind the rise of the
Arab Caliphate, a strong Mediterranean power that was famous for
its religious tolerance, as well as its achievements in the
sciences and culture; oriental religions had huge influences on the
destiny of Asian nations.

It should be admitted at the same time that the slogans of faith
have, in different historical periods, covered up some of the most
heinous crimes. Let us recall the Crusades that Western Christians
organized against the Moslems, or the methods that Spanish
inquisitors applied within its homeland, as well as in South
America, or the religious wars in Europe. At the end of the 20th
century, the frontlines of religious conflicts in regions as
diverse as the Middle East, Ulster, the former Yugoslavia,
Nagorno-Karabakh, Chechnya, and the Indian sub-continent, clearly
coincided with the spread of different faiths.

In Russia, Eastern Orthodox Christianity played a big role in
shaping an ethnically monolithic state and bringing the people
together to defend against foreign invaders. This happened within a
period of 500 years after the christening of two major cities of
Kievan Rus – Kiev and Novgorod. By assisting the formation of a
centralized state, the Church overwhelmed the resistance of the
feudal princes who preferred a more feudal republican style.
Finally, Eastern Orthodoxy gave rise to an authentic Russian
culture.

Russia’s territory kept growing in the subsequent period and
spread far beyond the original areas inhabited by Eastern Slavs. It
encompassed new lands reaching to the South Caucasus, Central Asian
deserts, and continuing on to the Pacific coast in the Far East.
Russia transformed from a mono-ethnic and mono-religious country
into a multi-ethnic and multi-religious one, but the ethnic and
religious equality of the sovereigns of the Russian monarchy never
made itself felt in latter-day state policy. More than that, the
state machinery fully absorbed the institute of the Church and,
according to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexii II, any
more or less significant shifts in the upper echelons of power
would turn the Russian Church into a “political widow.”

The Bolshevik revolution of 1917 unleashed a literally mortal
fight against religion. Stalin, however, introduced appeasements
during the intense battles against Nazi Germany during World War II
(1941-1945) in a bid to win over the support of the religious
hearts. But genuine freedom of consciousness remained the plot of a
dream both during Stalin’s rule and after him. The authorities
immediately trampled under their control the religious associations
they had recently permitted.

It is not accidental that right after his accession to the
Patriarch’s Office in 1990, Alexii II made unequivocal statements
in favor of a real separation of the church from the state,
formally proclaimed since the times of Vladimir Lenin. While making
public this position, the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as the
other denominational organizations, had no plans of separating from
society. This principled stance was reflected in the 1993
Constitution of the Russian Federation, as well as in the official
documents of the Moscow Patriarchate.

In the mid-1990s, however, the relationship between the state
and religious denominations produced a big public stir again and
split society into two camps. It happened in the course of the
drafting and adoption of the 1997 Law on the Freedom of Conscience
and Religious Associations, destined to replace the 1990 Law on the
Freedom of Conscience. The new law introduced a permissive
mechanism for setting up religious organizations and their
activities, as opposed to the previously effective declarative
mechanisms, and envisioned their complete re-registration. It
mentioned, among other things, a possibility of liquidating some of
the previously registered communities under a whole range of
conditions, mentioned neither in the Constitution nor in the 1990
law.

The initiators of the Law on the Freedom of Conscience and
Religious Associations made it quite clear that they aimed to
reduce the numbers of officially registered religious communities
by crossing some of them out of the state register on the pretext
that they were not “integral parts of the historical heritage of
the peoples living in Russia.” But the Constitutional Court impeded
the attempts to make the law retroactive, and the lists of
centrally and locally registered religious associations continued
growing as a result. That was a remarkable victory for the
proponents of free conscience in a nascent state: the victory of an
open Russian civic society.

COUNTRY OF REAL PLURALITY OF BELIEFS

The religiosity of one half of Russian society has ebbed
markedly, while the other half is demonstrating a clear trend
toward a great diversity of religious convictions. The chart below
shows this denominational plurality as reflected in the official
data on the registration of nationwide and regional religious
associations as of January 1, 2002, released by the Russian
Ministry of Justice. (The “Protestants” category features religious
associations of all the denominations related to Protestantism; the
“Moslems” category includes organizations affiliated with all
Moslem Boards in Russia).

Federal
Districts

Russian
Orthodox
Church

Old Believers

Catholics

Protestants

Moslems

Jews

Buddhists

Other

Total

 Central   

4,030

74 

30 

1,056

54

 82 

26

433

5,785

 North-West 

1,026

18

39

561

15

 24

 8

111

1,802

 South         

1,154

27

42

673

860

 30

 47

166

2,999

 Volga 

2,570

83

28

642

1,755

 34

 11

146

5,269

 Urals       

584

17 

12

282

254

 23

 3

78

1,253

 Siberian        

834

29 

90

557

89

 31

 90

156

1,876 

 Far-Eastern 

317 

13 

21 

409 

11 

 19 

 10 

108 

908

 In all 

10,515 

261 

262 

4,180 

3,038   

 243

 195

1,198 

19,892

This data puts the Russian Orthodox Church into the lead among
Russian religious denominations, accounting for over 50 percent of
all the registered religious communities across Russia. Its
presence in different parts of the country is uneven, however. The
summarized number of Russian Orthodox communities is greater than
that of all the other denominations taken together in the Central
and North-West Federal Districts. The Orthodox Church is also ahead
of other communities, although it does not exceed the level of 50
percent in the South, Volga, Urals, and Siberian Federal Districts.
As for the Far-Eastern Federal District, the Russian Orthodox
communities ranked second after the Protestant churches, although
it is worthwhile noting that the Protestants in Russia, like
everywhere, do not have a centralized governing body and act as
several autonomous religious organizations.

Islam has given up its former second position to the
Protestants, yet it remains a powerful and dynamic force with
impressive potential capabilities (partly explicable by the higher
birthrates among the Moslems, and by the inflow of refugees from
conflict zones in the Caucasus and Central Asia). Another three
major world confessions, the Roman Catholic Church, Judaism and
Buddhism, have smaller numbers of followers.

Overall, the list of organizations officially registered and
re-registered in Russia under the Law on Freedom of Conscience and
Religious Associations contains about 20,000 communities
representing almost 70 confessions. Their followers, including
representatives of new religious movements, stress their abidance
by the law, call for moral purification, and denounce terror and
violence.

The adepts of some creeds, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, reject
participation in political life or service in the armed forces, but
their position does not contradict the laws of the Russian
Federation. The Constitution makes participation in government
affairs a right for the citizen, not a compulsory duty (Article
32). It also empowers those men who are eligible for army service
to opt for an alternative civil service, if military occupations
contradict their religious convictions (Article 59).

RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE AND EXTREMISM

Naturally, there are groups of people who are intolerant of
those who think or believe in God differently, while groups
inclining toward extremism may surface within any religious
organization, be it on the fringes of society or a respectable
mainstream denomination. Russia is certainly no exception in this
sense. Apart from new religious groups (for example, of the Aum
Shinrikyo type), such people are found, for instance, in Russian
Orthodoxy and Islam. Their number includes the outspoken and
aggressive “rescuers of Orthodoxy” like the notorious Dr Alexander
Dvorkin, the head of the ‘Sect Research Department’ at the
Moscow-based

St. Tikhon Orthodox Theological College, or the leaders of the
movement called “Orthodoxy or Death.” There are also Moslem
activists, of whom the warlord Shamil Bassayev is a primary
example, who perpetrate and practice terror despite the sacred
texts of the Islamic religion.

The difference between them is that the Islamic extremists
mastermind and carry out terrorist acts citing the name of the
Almighty Allah, while the Russian Orthodox extremists do not
organize acts of terror as such – they confine their own efforts to
fanning religious strife in newspaper articles and public speeches,
distinguishing between superior and inferior people on the basis of
their affiliation or non-affiliation with the Russian Orthodox
Church. They usually travel in different parts of the country
giving lectures that urge the audiences to fight against the
‘sects,’2 and after their
departures, unlawful actions are often committed. The incensed
clergy has been known to set fire to various buildings of the
sectarians, and beat up – or even kill – religious figures. Leaders
of the victimized religious communities have often filed their
complaints with the top state officials. Preventive action against
these crimes requires concerted efforts on the part of law
enforcers, as well as the scholars of religions.

Lately, many religious figures and politicians have been saying
it is important to have a close look at the environment where
extremism is budding. The worse the living standards, or the less
confidence the people have in their future, the smaller the value
of human life and the easier to find potential persecutors, who
will stop short of practically nothing in the name of a religious
or a political idea implanted in their heads. Nor will they stop
short of criminal acts, even the ones which must be paid for with
their own lives. In light of the situation, no one can give a
guarantee that we will manage to avoid a suicide bombing that will
pale out all the acts of terror we have seen so far.

Antiterrorist operations of the Russian special services must go
hand in hand with systemic and scrupulous activities to isolate the
extremists – in the first place, among their religious brethren. It
is equally important to create an appropriate political, economic,
and social situation that will impede the concealment of extremism
that is camouflaged by religious phraseology. While carrying out
our initiatives, we must ensure that the remedies prescribed are
not more hazardous than the disease they are supposed to treat.
Patriarch Alexii II said in December 1994, after the start of
combat operations in Chechnya, that the use of violence to subdue
violence holds no promise for success, because it breeds violence
in response.

CONSOLIDATION OR SPLIT?

The consolidation of all religious communities and the state is
essential for counteracting the new challenges of our time, of
which international terrorism – with its ability to disguise itself
as a reaction of the poor nations to globalization – emerges as the
major threat. Coming next on the list is the ‘clash of
civilizations,’ as foretold by Samuel Huntington. The world’s top
statesmen and religious leaders realize the need for concerted
efforts perfectly well. Russian President Vladimir Putin has
maintained the Council for Interaction with Religious Associations,
set up in 1995 during Boris Yeltsin’s presidency. A number of
inter-denominational and public organizations, including the
Russian (renamed into Eurasian in 2002) branch of the International
Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) also continue their
operations during Putin’s term of office.3

In reality, however, the screen of normal relations between the
state and religious confessions conceals the disengagement of
forces which have extremely adverse viewpoints on the role and
place of religion in modern Russian society. The vast schism
separating them exists not only between the state machinery and the
religious communities, but also inside government institutions and
religious organizations. A certain part of the Russian political
elite and Russian Orthodox clergy make little secret of their
willingness to turn Orthodoxy into a new state ideology.

Most politicians in Russia today have a rather unclear vision of
the essence of Eastern Orthodoxy, although one may find some
genuine believers among them. A number of people in power seem to
have placed their trust in the idea that a monolithic Russian
society can be recreated under the banners of the Russian Orthodox
Church. They attach the role of “guardians of ideological purity”
to the Orthodox bishops in Moscow and in the regions in the same
way as ideological guardianship would  be attached to the
Communist Party committees back in the Soviet times. Moscow-based
and regional mass media contain many samples of this.4Those people do not seem to be dismayed
by the unconstitutional nature of such moves as they close their
eyes to Article 13 of the Constitution, which says: “1. The Russian
Federation shall have ideological diversity. 2. No singular
ideology shall be proclaimed government-supported or mandatory
ideology.”

Proponents of clericalist trends within the Russian Orthodox
Church have their own calculus, as well – they want to make the
secular authorities instrumental in their efforts to bring more
potential believers to the realm of Orthodoxy. While being unready
for truly Christian missionary activity, they want more opportunity
to attain their aims by using ‘special relationships’ with the
agencies of state power and, most importantly, by reducing the
freedoms of the other beliefs.5   

This idea is obviously unacceptable for those who do not want a
re-emergence of the old state model where a combination of Russian
ethnicity and Russian Orthodoxy was the standard tradition. This
category includes non-believers in the first place, followed by
those who belong to the approximately 100 non-Russian ethnic
groups. Lastly, there is a fairly large number of followers of
non-Orthodox creeds. Also, very many Russian Orthodox believers
remember very well the Soviet-era persecutions of the Church; they
do not want to turn into persecutors themselves.

‘FRIENDS’ AND ‘ALIENS’ AMONG RUSSIANS

Motions by government agencies that have tried to restrict the
rights of ‘alien’ non-Russian Orthodox religious associations at
the insistence of the Russian Orthodox quarters, or by their own
initiative, have given rise to the following problems:

  • adoption of discriminatory acts contradicting the Constitution
    and Russian legislation, including the Law on the Freedom of
    Conscience and Religious Associations (in the form it was
    interpreted by the Constitutional Court);
  • a use of purely formal criteria for refusal to register or
    re-register religious associations, which the bureaucrats consider
    to be ‘alien’. This practice is particularly rife in the municipal
    law departments of Moscow;
  • attempts to impede the normal activity of non-Russian Orthodox
    religious associations through banishing trips to Russia by foreign
    clerics – most commonly Roman Catholics and Protestants – who were
    invited to and arrived in Russia on absolutely legitimate
    grounds;
  • a wave of refusals to prolong agreements on the lease of
    government-owned premises, where the religious communities deprived
    of their own buildings during atheism had prayer gatherings before
    the start of this campaign;
  • the use of advanced information technologies to paint the
    non-Russian Orthodox believers as villains; the dissemination of
    unverified or even false information about their doctrines and
    everyday practices, which some officials believe to be
    ‘untraditional.’

A campaign to classify the religious communities into ‘friends’
and ‘aliens’ was summarized in a document that was put together by
certain authorities. It cast a shadow over almost all religious
organizations, except the Russian Orthodox Church. That document
was a draft report on counteracting religious extremism, presented
by a workgroup of Russia’s State Council Presidium on October 30,
2002.

It interpreted in derogatory terms the very fact that
non-Russian Orthodox denominations had grown in number over the
previous decade. Its authors explained the situation by “the
growing religious expansionism on the part of foreign countries,”
which they said was “upsetting the ethnic and confessional balance
in Russia.” The document listed among the threats to this country
the Roman Catholics, the Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Reverend
Moon’s Unification Church, the Church of Scientology, and “certain
Islamic religious associations.”

The authors of the text were apparently too overwhelmed by the
search for foes. They listed among the totalitarian sects many of
the creeds that had received official recognition in the Russian
Federation following a religious expert study under the auspices of
the Russian Justice Ministry, as well as other organizations, whose
leaders were invited by President Putin to join the presidential
Council for Interaction with Religious Associations.

The document proposed, among other things, to produce “maps of
peoples and religions” of all the seven federal districts.6 It also specified measures to support
“the traditional religious organizations” (which it did not name,
though), and an additional inclusion of an “inter-departmental
expert council” in “the list of state agencies authorized to
control activities of religious organizations” (the latter proposal
suggested that the list of the kind had existed before).

The publication of a brief version of the document in
newspapers, followed by the full version on an Internet web site,
produced all of the effects of a bomb. It caused open protests by
the leaders of the religious communities who felt that someone had
a desire to end the freedom of confession and to return to the
millennium-old tradition of official uniformity of creed under the
guise of fighting with ostensible ‘religious extremism.’

ISLAM IN RUSSIA

The Council of Muftis of Russia, set up several years ago and
chaired by Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin, has leveled criticism at the “de
facto” transfer of power to decide on the fate of non-Russian
Orthodox believers to the Orthodox clergy in the territories of the
Russian Federation.

 “Russian Moslems have earnest respect for the Russian
Orthodox Church, but we cannot coordinate each project of building
a mosque or creating a new Moslem community with its officials; nor
are we required to do so under law,” the muftis said in a letter to
the leaders of the country.

They cited a number of cases when the Moslems were denied an
opportunity to register their communities or build mosques under
the pretext that “traditional Russian territories” would be
affected. This kind of practice might trigger reciprocal actions on
the part of those who live on “the traditional Tatar, Bashkir,
Balkar, Uzbek, Azerbaijani, Dagestani or other territories,” the
muftis warned.

The Russian Moslems were particularly disappointed by a campaign
to introduce Orthodoxy on a massive scale in the law enforcement
agencies, which began a few years ago. “We are strongly concerned
by the actions of certain officials at the Defense Ministry, who
put Russian Orthodoxy in opposition to all other creeds, thus
shaking the foundations of the Armed Forces and splitting them
along ethnic and religious lines,” the Council of Muftis said in a
comment on the exclusive cooperation of the Russian Orthodox Church
with the law enforcement agencies.

The government’s cooperation with the Russian Church is really
gaining momentum, especially in the military-strategic area. The
Moscow Patriarchate, the Defense Ministry, the Interior Ministry,
and several agencies that had been affiliated with the KGB in the
Soviet times – all signed a range of exclusive agreements in the
mid-1990s. The Armed Forces newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda published a
notification for all the servicemen on April 29, 1997, that any
interaction between the army and religious organizations could only
be done via a department of the Russian Church’s Holy Synod in
charge of communications with the Armed Forces and law enforcement
agencies.

In the meantime, it is worth recalling Alexii II’s saying: “All
the religious associations registered in Russia – Christian,
Moslem, Buddhist, Judaic, or others – must enjoy an opportunity to
organize services and exercise spiritual guidance [of their
followers] in military units.”7
It looks like the decision-makers at the law enforcement agencies
think different.

A recent document on the Islamic social doctrine said the
Moslems hope the state will create an atmosphere where everyone
would feel that they are full-fledged Russian citizens, so that he
or she would understand that defense of state interests means
defense of his or her family, native land, city, village, faith,
and customs. Its authors stressed the importance of consistency of
state policy and state symbols (the national emblem and the
national anthem) with the multi-ethnic and multi-denominational
makeup of the country.8

Even Alexander Solzhenitsyn, known for his pro-nationalistic
moods, mentions the absence of a sober reckoning with the present
realities in Russia. One of his latest works says: “A multi-ethnic
country in the times of trial must be bolstered by the support and
inspiration of all its citizens. Each nationality must have the
conviction that it, too, stands in need of a concerted defense of
common state interests. This is the type of state patriotism that
is totally unseen in Russia of today.”9

WHITHER WILL RUSSIA MOVE?

Few people can have any doubt that the prospects of civic peace
in Russia are contingent on whether a real multi-ethnic and
multi-confessional Russian identity will emerge (like it is taking
shape in present-day Europe), or on whether we will be trying to
adapt the traditional combination of Russian ethnicity and
Orthodoxy to the 21st century, pretending that the two notions are
congruent. To all appearances, future developments will take either
of the two routes described below.

Option 1. Government organizations will observe the
Constitution, other laws and Russia’s international commitments. In
this case:

  • the state will remain secular, and no singular religion or
    ideology shall be adopted as the official state religion or
    ideology, while all the religious associations shall enjoy real
    equality before the law (Constitution, Articles 13-14);
  • the state shall guarantee genuine equality of the rights and
    freedoms of man and citizen, regardless of religious views; any
    restrictions of civil rights along the criterion of religious
    affiliation shall be banned (Constitution, Article 19);
  • each citizen shall have the right to espouse any religion
    individually or in assemblies with other citizens; to choose freely
    or disseminate any religious convictions; also, citizens shall have
    the right to have no religious convictions.

The Russian Orthodox Church will also observe in practical terms
the provisions of the Basic Social Concept which its Council of
Bishops endorsed in August 2000. They stipulate that:

  • the Church shall not assume the functions typical of government
    agencies (Concept, III. 3);
  • clergymen and canonic clerical structures shall not cooperate
    with the state in political struggle; civil wars or external wars;
    direct involvement in intelligence operations or any other activity
    that requires safeguarding of state secrecy (this means even
    through confessions or reports to the Church hierarchs (Concept,
    III. 8);
  • clerics shall abide by the canons precluding their engagement
    in government activity (Concept, III. 9).

It would seem that the above is an axiom. However, far from all
state officials and high-ranking Russian Orthodox Church officials
adhere to those principles. If the state and Russia’s largest
religious organization translated into life what their
representatives say in public that would be a complete turnaround
from the present policy of a very influential part of Russia’s
political elite and influential Orthodox bishops.

Option 2. Nothing changes. Encroachments on the Constitution of
the Russian Federation, other laws and international commitments
remain as systematic as they have been so far. The recommendations
of the Councils of Bishops are buried in oblivion as if they were
never adopted. As a result, the country slides into a conflict of
two identities – the new Russian multi-ethnic and multi-religious
identity and the other, based on the experience of medieval
Muscovy, i.e. a combination of Russian ethnicity and Russian
Orthodoxy. That this is a possibility has been proved by recent
demands of the Russian Orthodox Church to replace Archbishop
Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in
Russia; by debates on plans to introduce religion-oriented subjects
at secular schools; by a decision of the lower house of parliament
to make the Cyrillic alphabet mandatory for the languages of all
the peoples inhabiting the Russian Federation.

After the crisis of those two identities reaches its climax, the
Russian Federation may find itself on the verge of a breakup along
the ethnic and religious principle. The process will be accelerated
by non-religious factors – the selfish interests of local elites,
crime-ridden economy, the crisis of security and law enforcement
agencies (the Armed Forces and police, in the first place), the
difficult problems of post-Soviet society, and great divergences in
the density of the population in the European and Asian parts of
the country against the background of overpopulated neighboring
countries. One more factor will speed up Russia’s disintegration –
during the czarist rule and Soviet power, the government expelled
convicts and opponents (including religious ones) to Siberia and
the Far East.

Russia’s state interests require averting developments under the
second version and channeling them into the alleys specified by the
Constitution of the Russian Federation, legislation, and this
country’s international commitments. The Russian Orthodox Church
can make an invaluable contribution to the rise of a new all-Russia
cultural identity without ceding the canons of Eastern Orthodoxy,
if it acts persistently upon provisions of its own social
concept.


1 Parlamentskaya
Gazeta, May 22, 2003.

2 The issue of
sects is one of the most entangled issues in the history of world
religions. It again came into the limelight in Russia and abroad at
the end of the 20th century, when the mass media carried stories on
several glaring crimes committed for pseudo-religious motives in
America, Europe and Asia, unwinding debates among clerics,
scientists and politicians on criteria for distinguishing between
genuine and fake religiosity. From the semantic angle of view, a
sect is part of an entity breaking away from it. Christianity
itself was born out of a different religion, Judaism, and kept
branching out into various denominations over centuries. Before the
revolution of 1917, Russian Protestants, recognized by the
government, published a magazine titled The Sectarian. They did not
see anything insulting in the word.

3 The Russian
(renamed into Eurasian in 2002) branch of the International
Association for Religious Freedom was founded in 1992 by all the
most authoritative religious organizations in the country,
including the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as a large group of
scholars, lawyers and public figures. Its president is always a
secular scholar. It also has vice-presidents – today these are the
chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, Russia’s chief rabbi,
the chairman of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Russia, and
the top leaders of Protestant denominations (the Union of
Pentecostal Christians of Evangelical Faith, the Russian Union of
Christians of Evangelical Faith, and the Russian Union of
Evangelical Christians-Baptists). The Eurasian branch of the IARF
is headed by the Secretary General – a representative of the
Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Russian Orthodox Church has been
taking part in the association’s procedures in the status of
observer beginning with 1997.

4 Parlamentskaya
Gazeta (April 3, 2002) put a capital-letter headline saying
“Orthodoxy Is Our Ideology” over an interview with Vyacheslav
Khizhnyakov, President Putin’s plenipotentiary representative in
the upper house of Russian parliament.

5 Numerous
instances underlining the encroachments on the rights of believers
are found in abundance in the documents of annual conferences of
the International Association for Religious Freedom, reports by the
Ombudsman of the Russian Federation, in publications of
non-governmental human rights organizations, newsletters and
analytic materials of the Institute of Religion and Law, group
monographs of the Institute of Europe, the Institute of
Comprehensive Social Studies, and other institutes of the Russian
Academy of Sciences.

6 The puzzling
question about such a plan is how the designers of the map will
reflect the coexistence of different religions and atheism
occurring throughout the country. Which religion will they ascribe
the “Moslem” Tatarstan to, for example? By statistics, its
residents represent almost 70 ethnic groups and more than a dozen
religious beliefs. Not to mention the City of Moscow, where ethnic
Tatars (both religious and atheistic) almost outnumber the Tatar
population of their historic motherland.

7 See: Blagovest,
No. 1, 1992.

8 See: Guidelines
for the Social Program of Russian Moslems. Moscow, 2001, pp. 39-40.
– Russ. Ed.

9 Alexander
Solzhenitsyn. Russia in Collapse (2nd edition). Moscow, 2002, p.
153. – Russ. Ed.